The reflection by James Martin, S.J., on joy in the Christian life appeared most appropriately in your Easter issue (4/2); overwhelming joy was the Easter experience of Jesus’ first disciples. Their encounter with their risen Lord transformed them into dynamic evangelizers. I am convinced of the intimate connection between Christian joy and effective evangelization. If people today do not receive the Christian message from joyful evangelizers, I doubt they will receive it at all. I say this based on 37 years of foreign missionary service in Bangladesh and the Philippines.
In 1975 Pope Paul VI wrote two apostolic exhortations for the jubilee year. His well-known Evangelii Nuntiandi (Evangelization Today) is probably the best document he ever wrote; his little-known Gaudete in Domino (Christian Joy) was written for Pentecost 1975. Paul VI affirms the evangelization-joy dynamic. He asserts that the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness...the witness of an authentic Christian life; and this task must be done with ever increasing love, zeal and joy. The pope identifies various obstacles that impede evangelization; the most serious is lack of joy and hope.
At the conclusion of GD, Paul VI writes about the joy of being Christian and he notes that it would be very strange if this Good News, which evokes the alleluia of the Church, did not give us the look of those who are saved.
In the final exhortatory section of EN, Paul VI speaks personally to all evangelizers: Let us preserve the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow.... May the world of our time...receive the Good News, not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervor, who have received the joy of Christ.
Indeed, Father Martin got it right: Christian joyand joyful evangelizersare the most effective witnesses of the Gospel. They are the most infallible sign that Jesus lives!
James H. Kroeger, M.M.
The column Of Many Things on April 9, by Jim McDermott, S.J., was marvelouslaugh-out-loud. The trouble is it came on Good Friday, and there I was laughing out loud in my room. On Easter I read it to our blind sister and she was laughing tears, and I laughed all over again. It has been a long time since there was such a humorous article on that page. I’ve been receiving America since the 1980’s; and back then, almost regularly, that page had some great, witty pieces. One on baseball comes to mind. Now they are almost all serious. I suppose the times are serious too, but thank you for the break and the good laugh. You ought to do a follow-up with some more of those rejection letters from Brother Snerd. Is that his real namesounds like a character from fiction? Thank you again for the fun, and have a joyful Easter from a grateful reader.
Mary Catherine Smith, S.Sp.S.A.P.
I’ve subscribed to America since my son’s first grade magazine campaign. He is now 33.
For the first couple of decades, I could pretty much rely on the inside cover for a lift, a chuckle, even a good guffaw. Editors changed (a few times) and somewhere in all the shuffling, the humor disappeared. Quite frankly, for my goal of a bit of respite, the inside cover became too thought-provoking and even distressing. But not on April 9! My thanks to Father McDermott.
E. M. Clements